During an up-and-down first half against Purdue Sunday afternoon, Iowa struggled against the Boilermakers' interior height. The Hawkeyes went just 6/17 inside the three-point arc against a Purdue defense that leads the nation in effective field goal percentage allowed, were outrebounded 21-14 by Purdue's array of big men, and trailed by two at the break. The Hawkeyes' undefeated conference record was in serious jeopardy for the first time in weeks.
Iowa's halftime adjustment was simple: Rain hell from above. The Hawkeyes made five of their first six three-point attempts from five different players. Iowa finished the game having shot 11/20 from behind the three-point line (compared with 16/34 from inside the stripe).
When Iowa went inside during the second half, it was for high percentage shots, none more high percentage than Jarrod Uthoff's posterization of much-hyped freshman Caleb Swanigan.
Uthoff's dunk ignited an already-buzzing crowd, and the rout was on. The Hawks outscored Purdue 33-12 during the first twelve minutes of the second half, opening an insurmountable 19-point lead and cruising to a 83-71 win over the No. 22 Boilermakers. Uthoff finished with 22 points on 7/13 shooting. Peter Jok and Adam Woodbury each added 13 points, with most of Woodbury's points coming during that crucial second-half stretch. Anthony Clemmons scored 10 and added six assists, picking up for a struggling Mike Gesell. Even the bench got in on the fun, with Dom Uhl and Brady Ellingson each scoring 8 points, with Uhl adding 5 rebounds.
The win moves Iowa to 7-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1969-70, the famous Ralph Miller team that went 14-0 in conference games. That team averaged 99 points a game without a three-point line. This team isn't playing at quite that level, but in the days of low-tempo college hoops, it's as close as we've seen since. Yes, this is the eventual evolution of McCaffery's philosophy at Iowa, a multi-headed, highly efficient offensive attack that capitalizes on opposition mistakes to maximum effect, but it's more than that. We're seeing something we haven't seen in decades, that once-in-a-generation team that Iowa fans have waited for since 1986.
A trip to Maryland looms large, but there might not be anyone in the conference that can hang with this squad in any venue. Buckle up. The ride's getting good.